The Albuquerque Backgammon Club
EVERY WEDNESDAY - 5:30 PM
1. Second Man Up?
Unlimited Match - Jacoby
A few tables had already started their weekly play at our club’s regular venue. In a head-to-head competition, Red and White reached this position. Red’s 3 is forced. What should he do with the 2?
Best Choice: Bar/22* 7/5*
2. A Choice of Three Sixes
Unlimited Match - Jacoby
Often in backgammon, when one comes in from the bar the first portion of the roll is forced. It is the second portion that challenges our brain. Such is the case here. Red is forced to come in with the 5 but which 6 is correct? Two of the 6s hit White’s checker (on either the 14pt or the 2pt) and the only other 6 starts the valuable barpoint. What would you do?
Best Choice: Bar/14*
Red made a blunder here. eXtreme Gammon’s analysis shows us that abandoning the safety of the 5pt and hitting on the 14pt is correct. Taking away half of White’s role is important and doing so only leaves nine numbers (52, 42, 32, 21, and 22) to hit Red’s blot on the 14pt. Why is this important? The secret is in the count. Before the roll, White leads 135 to 159. If Red comes in and hits with the 56, he gains eleven pips from the roll and White loses fourteen pips from the hit (yes, the gain/loss from a hit is always 25), essentially tying the race at 149! In the heat of the battle, Red looked for safety and position but ignored the race.
3. Pressure From A Four Cube Chouette Double
Unlimited Match (Chouette)
White on roll ad doubles. Take?
(Red is moving counter-clockwise. His home board is at the bottom right).
A chouette normally has two or more players (the Team or Crew) play against a single player (the Box). The team is led by the Captain who rolls and is responsible for final decisions after consultation with the team.
That evening, Red sat comfortably in the box when Captain Braveheart convinced his crew that it was time to pressure the box with this interesting double. Four against one! It hardly seemed fair but such is the reality of a 5-player chouette. It looked like Red’s back checkers were going to be pinned in and the blot on his 5pt. was threatened with 15 shots. What do you think he should do?
Red took the double, thinking that he had a secure 1pt anchor in the team’s home board and that the impending threat on his lone checker did not appear too catastrophic. The game had a lot of play left and owning the cube(s) could easily work to his advantage.
Best Choice: No Double
Oops, it looks like Captain Braveheart led his mates astray. Not only was Red’s take correct, the position was way too fluid to even warrant a double. In fact Red has a 41% chance to win this game. Doubling was a significant blunder (an equity loss of - 0.137).
The important lesson is don’t give the cube away on questionable positions. A few moves later, Red redoubled the entire team out. It’s rumored that Captain Braveheart will soon be trading in his sextant for a new GPS system.
4. Is It A Take With 13 Checkers Off?
3 Point Match
White on roll. Double? Take?
(Red is moving counter-clockwise. His home board at the bottom right).
White 44 2a
Red 43 3a
Knowing when to double and when to take is the essence of fine backgammon play. Doubling decisions are completely in the control of each player. The art and science of doubling is probably the most difficult backgammon skill to learn.
For that reason it is necessary to build up a mental array of reference positions to help in the decision making process. Here is such a position from a match at the Albuquerque Backgammon Club.
White leads 1-0 to in a 3 point match. Before arriving at this position, White was bearing off while pursuing a gammon. In the bear off, White left two blots. Red hit both of them. A few rolls later, White had managed to get one man in and Red had advanced his prior hitter to his barpoint. From the bar, White has a decision to make. Should White double? Should Red take?
Best Choice: Double/Take
Yes, it is a double and a take (a drop would be a loss of nearly a half point in equity, 0.489). Unfortunately for Red, after he accepted the double, White immediately rolled 66 and it was all over.
C'est la vie!